We are engaged in a debate over guns and gun control. Some of the voices that we can hear, are telling us that the government wants to take away all of their guns, while others tell us that they need their guns to protect their families from the eventuality of a government that has gone mad, and wants to take away their freedom. These voices are passionate about their guns and maintaining the right to own and to use them.
It’s all about freedom. I believe that freedom begins with thoughts and ideas. It is not about things. Guns are things, and bullets give them their power. When you run out of bullets, you run out of power. Ideas are not things. They are words. Words have power. Nobody can take away your words. They are more powerful than guns.
Words and ideas give our democracy and our people their power. Keeping those thoughts and ideas alive, are essential to maintaining our freedom. It is our children, and our children’s children, to whom we must look, to keep the light of freedom burning brightly.
Accordingly, we look towards our schools and our teachers to play an important role in maintaining our freedom. Teaching is accomplished through words and ideas. By virtue of the power within those words and ideas, teachers are among the most important people in our society, and schools are among the most important of our institutions.
We are at a time when our schools, our teachers, and our children have become captured in the debate about guns and safety. Gun rights advocates are telling us that we need more guns to keep our schools safe. My response to them is that we must use words and ideas to protect them.
Our children need to hear more about this wonderful democracy and the higher ideals to which we all aspire. We desperately need them to be inspired by our elected officials – who need to improve upon their ability to work together, in keeping alive the words and ideas behind our democracy and freedom.
Fear and paranoia, because they too, are words and thoughts, are very powerful. Perhaps they are the greatest enemies of our freedom. I believe that the power of freedom and democracy exceeds the power of subjugation and dictatorship. The strength behind a dictatorship is looking over the barrel of a gun. The strength behind our freedom, are the words and ideas in such documents as the Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation.
To those gun advocates who are passionate about their firearms, you have nothing to fear from me. I want you to keep them and be able to use them. I call on you to respect the passions behind those who are concerned about the prevalence of gun violence in our society. We believe ever so much in our freedoms and democracy. I call on you to give greater thought to the words and ideas behind our freedom. Without that freedom you couldn’t have your guns.
Bill Jacobs is executive Director of the McDonough County Housing Authority.
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Tri States Public Radio or Western Illinois University.